“Tales from the Road” A locums journey

For the past 18 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the finest doctors that the medical field has to offer.   The stories they have shared with me about their locum tenens experience have made me laugh, made me cry and sometimes both in the same story.  One thing is for certain, when they share their experiences with me, they are sharing a piece of their lives with me and I appreciate every moment of it.

I’ve often wondered what it’s really like to step into a completely different hospital, clinic, practice, state, city or town and spend the next few weeks or months of your life there.  Some of the doctors I have worked with receive birthday cards every year from the people they have met along the way.  Some curse me and threaten to never work with me again if I even mention certain previous assignments.  OK, yes, that’s probably a little extreme, but you get the point.

What does strike my imagination is to consider the thought that perhaps the varying degrees of experiences are actually not that far apart after all.  Could it be possible that some of the locum tenens assignment “train-wrecks” were only just a couple of weeks away from becoming a really great experience, but assignment ended just a little too soon?

I think about the 1991 movie, “Doc Hollywood”.  Yes, 1991 is going way back, so here is a quick recap:  Michael J. Fox has just finished his residency program and is headed to the West Coast to join a financially lucrative practice.  Along the way, he causes a major accident with his sports car which happens to cause a lot of damage in this small rural town.  When he appears in front of the judge, he has no money to pay for any of the damages, so the judge sentences him to provide free healthcare (pro-bono) to the people in this small town.  Of course, Michael J. Fox is horrified at the thought and the townspeople are not too thrilled either.  However, after a series of events such as people trading pigs for his medical services, him learning “common-sense” medicine from the local doc, the town grows on him and he grows on the town.  In one scene, the local mechanics claim that the parts to repair his foreign sports car still haven’t come in.  The truth is that the parts came in weeks earlier; they just don’t want him to leave now.  Ultimately, Michael J. Fox decides to stay in this town after he falls in love and feels truly appreciated.  Of course, this is just Hollywood, right? That never happens in the real world of locum tenens. Or does it?

This is where your story comes in.  I want to know your story – good, bad, or otherwise.  Someone once said, “Truth is stranger than fiction….”  Send your story to me and let’s find out!

My email address is: [email protected]

I have also added a link to the Consilium Staffing webpage which is specifically formatted for you to share your story:  Tell us your Locum Tenens Story

I’m looking forward to hearing your story, thank you in advance for sharing yours with me.

Written by John Moberly Vice President and Partner for Consilium Staffing.


What Makes a Good Locums Company?


Good Locum Company

With any subjective question like this, if you ask 10 qualified people, you’ll probably get 10 relatively different, but acceptable, answers. However, if you speak to enough people, you can see a pattern forming at the surface. Certain truths or best practices work their way to the front; and you realize that a question like this really isn’t subjective at all…

As I’ve built relationships with countless clients and providers over my 7 years of locuming, I’ve asked this very question to myself and to others. I’ve asked it often. And not just to clients and providers, but many people in various roles. What follows are the 3 most common responses I’ve received over the years.

1. Communication

A good locums company communicates effectively with every single person involved. The whole is the sum of its parts, and there are many moving parts that have to all come together, sometimes in just the right order, for coverage to be secured utilizing a locums tenens provider. I can tell you from personal experience that a lack of communication from any party involved can be severely damaging. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for many of us to get caught up in the business aspect of what we do. So what’s the outcome of a breakdown in communication in the world of locums? A provider might not go to work. A facility might experience an immediate loss of revenue, and in some cases, a permanent loss due to patient migration. But beyond that, the sad and ugly truth is that in the end, the patient suffers. Not you. Not me. It is always the patient.

 2. Patient Focused

At the end of the day, everyone involved in the locums equation should have the same goal. Take care of the patient. Many times people in certain roles within a facility, and in some cases the provider too, can get too snagged on the bottom line. Unfortunately the bottom line isn’t always patient care. Getting caught up in negotiating rates and figuring out who’s going to cover travel and/or lodging costs is too easy and too common. It happens hundreds of times a day all over the country among numerous agencies. Those types of negotiations are necessary. They make sure things stay in motion. But those things are too often the entirety of the equation, instead of a function within the equation. I can tell you that the most successful and longest lived relationships between me, the facilities, and the providers have all come as a result of a patient-focused approach.

3. Solution Oriented

This one may sound like a “no-brainer” or downright common sense. But when I say solution oriented, I’m not referring to simply “filling an order”. Anyone can fill an order. It’s not difficult. I’m speaking about much more than that. You’ve probably noticed by now that there’s a common end-game in locums: patient care. Sometimes just filling an order doesn’t meet that end. Sometimes it takes a much more creative approach than either the facility or the provider expected.

In this industry, there is a solution to every problem. The best locums companies find those solutions.  Often times the solution looks nothing like what was originally “ordered”, but turns out to be exactly what the patients’ need. And after it’s all said and done, if patient care isn’t your ultimate goal… locums may not be for you.

Written by Tobey Decker, guest author for Consilium Staffing.